Campus: CSU Long Beach -- July 2, 2003

Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York Acquires CSULB Art Professor's Ceramic Piece

Tony Marsh, a professor of art at California State University, Long Beach, recently saw his ceramic artwork “Seven Lobed Perforated Vessel” acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. He created the art piece at CSULB.

“I’m overwhelmed,” said Marsh, an alumnus of CSULB who earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in 1978. “I was really touched because I grew up in New York City. My mother used to take me to the Met when where I really wanted to go was the Museum of Natural History. I remember how massive the halls looked and how mysterious the objects were when I was a child. It was the first museum I ever went to and when my 81-year-old mother heard about it, she was pleased, too.”

The piece acquired by the Metropolitan is part of series of ceramics begun in 1993. “It is a multi-lobed open bowl shape that has many objects placed inside of it,” he explained. “Both objects and bowl are intensely perforated. It denies utility. Instead, it is a visual object that refers to the his-tory of containers. Instead of being utilitarian, the piece can be looked at with a sense of wonder.”

The Metropolitan acquisition caps 18 months of growing interest in Marsh’s ceramic work, which began in 1978 when he worked in Japan as an apprentice to now living national treasure, Tatsuzo Shimaoka. He went on to earn a master of fine arts degree from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in 1988.

In the last year and a half, Marsh’s ceramics have been collected by Toronto’s Garner Museum, Wisconsin’s Racine Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary International Ceramic Art in Inchon, South Korea, the Oakland Museum of Art, the Newark Museum of Art, China’s Foshan Museum of Contemporary Art, Missouri’s Daun Museum of Art, the Seoul National Museum of Art and the Long Beach Museum of Art.

He suggests one reason for his recent success with museums is his level of commitment to ceramics. “Something happens once it become obvious an artist is committed to what he or she is doing and keeps doing it,” he said. “Curators and collectors don’t want to jump the gun and acquire the work of an artist who is not committed. I think they are willing to wait for the work to develop and acquire the best an artist has to give.”

Curiosity is key in Marsh’s life and art. “At my home I have numerous prehistoric plants whose species have been on the planet for 250 million years simply because I am fascinated by them,” he said. “I’m genuinely curious about something most of the time. It works as a life force that gets me out of the house in the morning. My curiosities are diverse and I try to follow them.”

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